Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 21 & 22: Get Your Yin On

Look, kitties!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Ashtanga Primary Series w/ Deb C.
5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Ashtanga Foundations w/ Deb C.
7:00 – 8:30 a.m.

I've been feeling the downward pull of the oncoming New Moon this week... feeling my physical energy  lower and my mental energy calm as it gets closer (FYI it's tomorrow). It's a great coincidence that there's a Yin yoga class tomorrow night, which will be just what the doctor ordered before I start my David Garrigues workshop on Friday in Victoria, which I'm pretty sure will be high energy, mentally stimulating and inspiring.

One nice byproduct of this "exhalation of prana" (as this moon phase can be likened to) is that I found I was able to start settling in to some poses in a new way. Up until recently, when in a pose like Warrior II, I'd have everything engaged — feet, legs, bandhas, shoulders, arms. It's exhausting. This week, I've realized a new level of relaxation in parts of the body that don't need to be turned on — like relaxing my shoulders when bent forward in Prasarita Paddotanasana. The shoulders need to be drawn together, but they don't need to be flexed with the trapezius fully engaged. Overall, this has the effect of allowing more "space" in my practice (which translates to less frenetic and less stress), feeling like I'm using energy in a more judicious way (which helps with the breathing) and allows me to flow with greater ease.

On Sunday, at the start of the Yin Yoga workshop, we were presented with the image of the Yin Yang, which I think I have just always taken for granted, having been overexposed to it's appearance on everything from dorm room banners to bumper stickers to bongs. Maybe for the first time, I really looked at it and saw it for what it really is — an expression of the opposing forces in the universe, in us — engaged in a beautiful, balanced, cosmic dance, that can be related to all parts of our lives and yoga practice — from the balance of contracted and stretched muscles (bicep and triceps), to the use of counter poses in a sequence (back bend after forward bend), to the rest we take after vigorous practice, to the attitude we take out into the world after practice. It's all a balancing act, and one that can be as complex and beautiful as a Chinese plate spinner. Recognizing that is one thing and putting it into daily practice can be a challenge, but it's important for everyone, regardless of whether you naturally fall into the Yin side of things and struggle through an intense Ashtanga class, or you lean toward the Yang side and need to force yourself to take a bath and not an energetic practice. Me? I'll be taking a bath and getting my Yin on tomorrow.



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